MacDoctor on benefit budgeting

April 9th, 2011 at 10:36 am by David Farrar

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John Key was castigated in the left wing blogosphere for suggesting that the increase in people needing food parcels was due to issues of budgeting. It seems he was right. Not that the Herald would actually use the MacDoctor’s headline – they prefer:

Mum refused food aid under tough new rules

And then they launch into a long story about a solo mum with fibromyalgia and three children (7, 13 and 17) who has had to escape an abusive relationship. So far so good – that is what the DPB was intended for (although I would have thought she would have been on the sickness benefit, rather than the DPB). The story gets lurid with the nasty National government refusing to provide this poor lady with food aid.

Only in paragraph ten do we learn that this woman is receiving $827.50 a week in various forms of government largesse. It is not until the end of the article that we learn that she has had  four aid packages in the past six months and that she refuses to attend any budget meetings with WINZ.

I note the rent for the property is $385 a week. The article does not say whether or not she has applied for a state house. Maybe she doesn’t want to move, but if she did move into a state house then the rent would be well under $200 a week.

The power bill is $65 a week. At 25c/unit, that is 37 units a day which seems pretty high.

Also worth noting that while her expenses are currently $31/week higher than her income, $83 a week is repayments and fines. So if they had been avoided, then there would be a surplus of $52 a week.

None of this is suggesting that life isn’t challenging bringing up three kids on $830 a week. I am sure it is. But the facts show that the level of taxpayer support is already very significant, and that there are cost savings which can be made.

UPDATE: The Herald today reports:

However, a Glenfield solo mother of three children who was refused a $106 food grant on Wednesday was given the money late on Thursday after the Herald reported on her case.

Work and Income head Mike Smith said the mother, “Maree”, was not refused a grant – “she walked out of the meeting before a decision could be made”.

“Last year Maree received 13 hardship payments. She owes us $1400 for money we’ve advanced her,” he said.

“She is clearly having trouble managing her finances. We want to help her with that, rather than continuing to service the symptoms of the problem with hardship grants.”

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40 Responses to “MacDoctor on benefit budgeting”

  1. BeaB (2,123 comments) says:

    You would gave to be earning around $56,000 a year to get that sort of money in your hand. Not a bad handout from the rest of us who work hard for our money. Does she just sit on her backside all day or find ways of cooking nutritious meals for her kids. I bought a bag of apples from our greengrocer the other day – 55c a kg! Milk is still a cheap food and kids need only a glassful each day for good health. With all the time on her hands she could do what our mums used to do – provide cheap, good food and a clean house to live in.
    She also had rent arrears and fines to pay out of her benefits.
    The problem isn’t the income we give her – it’s her lazy, feckless, dumb habits and god help her kids who are doomed to end up like their mother. At the age they are, she could be working part-time and earning some money.
    I am afraid I have little sympathy for her as the problem is insoluble and we just have to keep on forking out for these layabouts.

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  2. Boloni (7 comments) says:

    What are thsse people going to do when the money runs out in the near future?

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  3. scrubone (3,099 comments) says:

    The rules aren’t that tough at all – all you have to do is get budget advice. Last I checked, listening to someone talk was not exactly hard! Yet according to the article she’s refused. That makes her the author of her own problems.

    I have it on good authority that WINZ are cancelling large numbers of benefits because those on them are simply not bothering to fulfil basic commitments – commitments that pale in comparison to any employee’s. Many aren’t even answering their phone when WINZ calls, so their chances of receiving a call from an employer are a big, fat zero.

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  4. Caleb (479 comments) says:

    Boloni, they will riot in the streets, burn cars and smash windows…

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  5. Ed Snack (1,873 comments) says:

    So the left wing blogosphere (as you put it) are basically saying that anyone who wants it should be paid money with extra when they want it with no controls at all ? That is, as long as you are otherwise unemployed (or at least not formally employed) and have children.

    Interesting concept, but perhaps a little impractical; unless people are basically angels who would never ask for such without good reason even if they don’t want to tell you what that good reason is. And do we think that accurately describes people in general ?

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  6. Kimble (4,440 comments) says:

    “So the left wing blogosphere (as you put it) are basically saying that anyone who wants it should be paid money with extra when they want it with no controls at all ?”

    Yes, Ed. That is what the left wing blogosphere calls “economic policy”.

    And it parrots what the left wing everything else has been saying for the last few decades.

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  7. peterwn (3,273 comments) says:

    Seems she wants top-up grants rather than advances which are recovered by future deductions.

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  8. brucehoult (195 comments) says:

    37 units a day isn’t huge. I averaged 26 over the whole of last year, and there’s just one of me. 12 or so in summer and 40 – 50 in the depths of winter. 25c/unit is surely a bit high though, so the actual units/day are probably at least 40 – 45.

    [DPF: Wow, I do around 8/day in summer and 15/day in winter]

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  9. starboard (2,537 comments) says:

    Disgusting. No wonder NZ is going down the shitter. Whats National done about it? Nothing. Whats National gona do about it? Nothing. Stop wasting my money Key on losers ,bums and layabouts.

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  10. nasska (11,525 comments) says:

    My heart pumps raw sewage for the useless [deleted by DPF]. I’m self employed, take whatever work is available, have most of my capital tied up in equipment & still couldn’t take out $50Kpa in drawings. How can these people be gently reintroduced to the real world?

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  11. scrubone (3,099 comments) says:

    brucehoult: yes, potentially it’s reasonable. One would hope that a budgeting service would be able to examine electricity usage habits. Uninsulated homes are always going to use a lot more electricity.

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  12. reid (16,471 comments) says:

    What I’m never surprised about is that lefties never see the plank in their own eye when they pretend they give a flying fuck about poor people.

    Conservative economics focuses on the respect and dignity a human deserves. Conservatives don’t believe a human should be treated as if they are incapable of nothing but receiving a handout. Unfortunately thanks to successive generations of mental lefty hand-wringing policy makers who don’t understand human behaviour we are now seeing 3rd and 4th generation dole bludgers who’ve never worked, who have kids young that they can’t pay for. They have never worked a day in their life and never will, nor does or ever did, mum or dad, nor did grandad and grandma on both sides. Conservatives don’t believe that’s a dignified life. Unfortunately, Liarbore never addressed that, not once. Instead Liarbore did everything it could to encourage it, so this appalling behaviour and attitude of entitlement spreads even more into the poorest of the poor, the very heart of Liarbore’s base.

    What sort of people are they, when you do that, to the very people for whom you proclaim to care most for?

    These say a lot:
    http://www.treasury.govt.nz/budget/2009/taxpayers/01.htm
    http://www.treasury.govt.nz/budget/2010/taxpayers/02.htm#_tocwhopays

    Thanks to whoever it was yesterday who gave us these…

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  13. Grizz (605 comments) says:

    She has to be taking the piss. Again socialists are championing the wrong person. To earn this amount of coin on a 40 hour week, you have to be on a an hourly wage of $26. To put this in perspective, this is what a junior doctor of 1 or 2 years experience would expect to earn as their base hourly rate.

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  14. Viking2 (11,471 comments) says:

    Here is todays effort.

    “Miss Sutton’s weekly expenses exceed $750 before she considers medical bills – which are regular due to both her daughter and herself needing asthma medication – or food.

    She gets help with the grocery bill from her brother and her mother, who live with her and her children – 17-year-old Wintec student Adam and eight-year-old Caitlin – to share the costs.

    “Individually the costs of rent, power and food would be too much.”

    Miss Sutton shuffles with discomfort when she looks at her fortnightly petrol bill – between $240 and $300.

    “It looks so bad, but I only use it for work, we don’t go anywhere on the weekends,” she said.

    Because her support role job in the education sector is based in Te Awamutu but most of the schools she visits are in Hamilton, she faces either a costly drive to pick up a company car, or using her own vehicle with no fuel subsidy. ”

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/4864432/Middle-income-budget-falls-short

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  15. starboard (2,537 comments) says:

    so why have children if you cant afford it ? Why the fuck should I pick up the tag?

    [DPF: Her partner turned violent. I am happy to support mothers in situations like that, with welfare assistance]

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  16. reid (16,471 comments) says:

    To put this in perspective, this is what a junior doctor of 1 or 2 years experience would expect to earn as their base hourly rate.

    I think what lefties would say Grizz is, what do doctors in their 3rd, 4th, 5th years of practice start earning, and I agree. It’s the same with lawyers and most professions.

    It’s a question of value. Is anyone no matter how skilled really worth more than say $1m per year? I don’t think so. Yes of course I am ignoring the question of why they do get paid more. I know why, all I’m saying is, in a perfect world, should they be?

    My point is the out of control rampant no-restriction capitalist model the world now operates has its pluses and its minuses. Over generations as professionals beget more professional children and factory workers beget more factory worker children the gap grows and grows and grows.

    This is their point, is all I’m saying, and you can see why they think that the factory workers are oppressed, because from their perspective we professionals are on a privileged super-highway of luxury, comfort and ease, whereas their situation simply deteriorates.

    The message we have to get through to them which incidentally will destroy Labour’s base, is that they too can get onto this same highway we are on, and we have to show them how to do it, vigorously help them do it and point to and highly publicise successful examples of families who are starting to do it. That is aspirational politics, to which Key proclaims he aspires. So why isn’t he already doing stuff like that.

    It’s like he doesn’t get that just because some ideas can be challenging to some people that doesn’t mean a politician shouldn’t put it to them, if and when it’s important enough and beneficial to all, to do so.

    The fact is if Key did that vigorously and successfully from now till when he steps down, he would be remembered as the greatest PM since Savage.

    The fact if he did do it successfully, means it would utterly decimate the heart of Liarbore’s base, for they could never again point to “the failed policies of the 90’s” with any credibility whatsoever.

    Of course, being conservatives we actually do care about helping poor people by giving them a hand-up and the final and killer argument is that if he did it successfully he would also at the same time help thousands and thousands of poor families to make their first steps onto our highway and wouldn’t that just be fan-fucking-tastic.

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  17. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    “they will riot in the streets, smash windows, burn cars” and this will do what? Surely most of these people are to sick to be a serious menace to society. When are our elected leaders going to step up and say ENOUGH. The government needs a serious dose of testosterone. Of course the fucking left will squeal like stuck pigs. But those paying the bills in this country will drown out their squeals with cheering.

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  18. reid (16,471 comments) says:

    The sorts of things I think Key could do is:

    Announce a serious total focus will be placed on this during the second term. Make it a policy platform that will be coordinated and led by DPMC with the PM as Chair.

    Task a multi-disciplinary team to tour the country interviewing everyone who has anything to offer in terms of solution, including many interviews with the poor people themselves (let’s not forget them…).

    Report back, DPMC organises, oversees and monitors the action plan from every dept concerned. KPIs are clear, explicit, frequent, everything is data focused and it’s all on the web, both the costs and the results.

    Think big on it, if one of the components is say implementing a modified broken windows policy for the police, so be it – make it obvious you are serious and committed.

    Demonstrate to all of us the whole country by actions and announcements that this is not repeat not a PC psychobabble bullshit exercise (which of course it would have been were Liarbore to have thought of this first). Make it clearly obvious to everyone that this is not some toothless talk fest.

    Think outside the box: e.g. get the poor people along to free seminars from some of the most powerful speakers in the world. Personally I would consider people like Tony Robbins, and there are many more.

    Setup voluntary mentoring networks where professionals can adopt a family, stuff like that, use social networking, all of that.

    Don’t put Gerry or Murray in charge.

    etc.

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  19. brucehoult (195 comments) says:

    [DPF: Wow, I do around 8/day in summer and 15/day in winter]

    I assume electricity is not your only energy source then?

    I could get down to 8 in summer if I didn’t work at home and have computers running. My big desktop uses about 2 units a day for the CPU box and about another 1 for the monitor. The server and RAID array use about another 1.5 and the cable modem, WIFI base station and other misc bits and pieces probably another 1 between them.

    I use about 5 a day when I go away on holiday and leave only the server, cable mode/WIFI and fridge on :-)

    I have a dehumidifier on from late March to early November which uses about 7 units a day, bringing the total to 20.

    From late May to late September the increasing use of an oil heater takes it over 30 units a day, peaking at about 50 for generally 1 week in July (late June in 2009).

    As I said .. 26 average over the whole year.

    [DPF: I am only electricity. Generally all I have on is fridge, TV and laptop]

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  20. BeaB (2,123 comments) says:

    Viking2
    And note this whinger, sitting with Phil Goff who sympathetically said he sometimes couldn’t afford to run his car when he was a student (in the 60’s – I rode a bike to university!), refused to say how much she earned. So we don’t know whether it is $40,000 or $140,000.
    But she has two other adults living with her sharing the costs.
    Where do the media get these stories. Or are they just taking the piss?

    I am always astonished at how cheaply we can live with plenty of meat, fish and chicken, lots of veg and salads and fruit. I am not embarrassed to look for specials, buy whatever is cheapest and make economical meals. We don’t have to scrimp and enjoy plenty of treats but this is the way I was brought up, by a mother who fed a large family on bugger all. And we had a cooked breakfast every day, plenty of baking in the tins and a huge vegetable garden and chooks in the backyard.

    As for rising costs, an article in the paper last week said a Philips K9 TV would cost $11,500 in today’s dollars!
    Kiwis are becoming more pathetic by the day.

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  21. Realist_NZ () says:

    Typical WINZ process for appearing to appease public over previous scandal of WINZ circumventing law by paying for impound fees:

    Beneficiary breaks law –> Car impounded –> Goes to WINZ for loan to get car out –> WINZ usually declines assistance unless exceptional circumstances

    Actual Process that occurs:

    Beneficiary breaks law –> Car impounded –> Goes to WINZ for loan to get car out –> WINZ Declines assistance –>Pays impound fees –> Calls 0800 WINZ –>WINZ gives food grant over phone

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  22. brucehoult (195 comments) says:

    [DPF: I am only electricity. Generally all I have on is fridge, TV and laptop]

    You don’t have showers? It takes 4.2 J/g to heat water by 1º C. Low flow shower heads deliver 5+ L/min. A 5 minute shower will use 25L of water that was heated by at least 40º C. That’s 4.2 MJ, or 1.17 kWh. It could be a bit less if you’re quick, or could be double if you take your time and have hot water. Or several times more if you don’t have a low flow shower head — you could be looking at 4 or 5 kWh per shower in extreme cases.

    Dishwashing can use quite a lot too. My kitchen sink (a smallish one) holds 20 L of water, so a sink-full of dishes is about the same usage as 4 minute shower.

    Washing and drying clothes can use a lot. It’s very obvious on the PowerShop site which days I put my weekly load of clothes through the drier in the winter because there’s a 7 or 8 unit high spike compared to the surrounding days.

    How about heating? You must have some? If you live in an apartment building then maybe you get heating included in the rent, but that just means it doesn’t show up on YOUR bill.

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  23. reid (16,471 comments) says:

    You don’t have showers?

    See this is the problem when you run a blog that has all sorts of people on it.

    All sorts of lifestyle choices risk exposure…

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  24. tristanb (1,127 comments) says:

    “she walked out of the meeting before a decision could be made”.

    So she can storm out in a huff when she’s not getting her way, and still get paid money for doing nothing? (Well, more money as a reward for wasting the other money she got for nothing. They should take this “hardship” grant out of her future benefit payments.)

    If I stormed out of a job interview, would I get the job? Would I get the loan if I tantrumed in front of the bank manager? Of course not. But this [preemptively censored expletive] receives no discouragement for acting like a spoilt brat next time.

    John Key needs to get his party to stop this crap. He’s got nine years or so in government, then the natural cycle will bring in another party. He can spend his nine years being cool, or he can try and stop our country going down the shitter.

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  25. scrubone (3,099 comments) says:

    Of course not. But this [preemptively censored expletive] receives no discouragement for acting like a spoilt brat next time.

    Spoken like someone who’s never bumped up against the pure ignorance combined with power over people’s lives that is WINZ.

    Though I do agree – you have to suck it up if you’re getting money for nothing.

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  26. Realist_NZ () says:

    “So she can storm out in a huff when she’s not getting her way, and still get paid money for doing nothing?”

    You are mistaken when you say this. As someone wrote in the herald recently (letters to editor?), it’s called getting paid to breed.

    A benefit payment in her mind will be changed to ‘income/wages’, for the hard work contributed.

    “They should take this “hardship” grant out of her future benefit payments.)”

    Food grants are always non recoverable, and even if it was made as a recoverable payment, she would just pay it off at the typical rate of $4.00 per week, or probably less. Beneficiaries tend to pay advances of at $1 per week on agreement with their case managers.

    When you consider that the policy requires the recoverable assistance to be paid off within 24 months, you get an indication of how WINZ does not follow their own policies.

    The WINZ policy is:
    “If a Special Needs Grant paid is recoverable, repayments must be: more than $4.00 a week, unless exceptional circumstances exist”

    So you can see WINZ grant unlimited hardship assistance and permanent interest free loans by abusing this “exceptional circumstances” criteria.

    Then once the beneficiary dies, guess what happens? They write off the entire debt. There go you tax dollars. On the topic of debt, the auditor-general released a report this week 7th April about an investigation into social welfare departments debt, which gives some frightening statistics about the amount of debt owing.

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  27. magic bullet (776 comments) says:

    It’s like a group of right wing shamans have gathered around a camp fire, and between discussions regarding the true nature of the invisible hand, they begin to have a collective vision – the maligned and bedevilled benefit bogey man, that lurks in every city. One could live around the corner from you!

    In ancient Rome, the rich spent their time talking about music, poetry, philosophy and politics. Nowadays the rich sit around fantasising about those nasty poor people that are a constant 5% drain on the annual bottom line. I’m afraid western society has nearly done its dash unfortunately.

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  28. reid (16,471 comments) says:

    In ancient Rome, the rich spent their time talking about music, poetry, philosophy and politics. Nowadays the rich sit around fantasising about those nasty poor people that are a constant 5% drain on the annual bottom line.

    No we don’t mb. We rich people spend most of our time driving our Ferrari’s between the Spanish, French and Italian riviera’s and then the alps in winter. Doesn’t everyone?

    I’m afraid western society has nearly done its dash unfortunately.

    Again mb we rich people continue to enjoy ourselves immensely and fail to see the problem.

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  29. magic bullet (776 comments) says:

    Maybe so reid. But the market rewards those with sociopathic tendencies, and they in turn become elites, and encourage everyone els to behave the same way. You end up with a profoundly sick society that’s obsessed with vein and shallow measurements of self-value. That’s what kind of utopia the invisible hand has delivered us to. It’s parodied endlessly in popular culture – Simpsons, American Beauty and American psycho. People cringe and laugh about it, but accept that it’s here to stay. The social conservatives don’t realise that it’s the nihilistic market narrative that has helped to develop so much of what they hate about present-day society. We have devolved from human beings, to units of production and consumption – if we believe the much esteemed and obsessed-over GDP per capita measurement, which is seen as the key measurement of a country’s success by the msm.

    It’s humanity at a fairly low and ugly point in many ways. A tiny epoch in human history, with community participation and identity mediated through a small clique of the capital-owning class – who tend to take a dim view of lower-socioeconomic communities. It’s a funny time to be alive, but there’s still so much fun to be had.

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  30. magic bullet (776 comments) says:

    Sorry – i just felt a little like i was having a Winston Smith diary-entry moment for a while there. I’ll expect to see the kiwiblog thought-police arrive on the thread any second now…..

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  31. reid (16,471 comments) says:

    …the market rewards those with sociopathic tendencies…

    Don’t disagree mb and additionally observe it rewards those of us who don’t have sociopathic tendencies, as well.

    It’s humanity at a fairly low and ugly…

    mb money accumulation is a function of human emotion. People accumulate wealth for all sorts of reasons. For greed, for fear, for altruism and everything in between.

    It is not humanity it is simply the vehicle humanity has chosen to achieve its objectives. This mb is an important distinction.

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  32. PaulL (5,981 comments) says:

    magic, you seem to see everything through the same lens. If you’re so worried that our society is going down the toilet, why not go join another?

    As for seeing the rich as being symptomatic of a civilisation in failure, I’d go the other way. Seeing a sizeable number of people getting paid for doing nothing productive, and fully expecting that it’s their right to have others in society pay for them whilst they do so……that is symptomatic to me of a society in trouble. However, I have a lot of faith in society, and I reckon that as people get a better handle on the stories, they’ll continue to reject the policies that led to them. Nobody wants to be paying for this lady to have tantrums and waste money – and they won’t vote for a political party that says that it’s OK. That’s why Labour have gone quiet over it.

    As for the rich…..seems to me there are a few different sorts of rich:
    – those whose parents made lots of money and gave it to them. It’s their parent’s right to do that – it’s their money. Seems a bloody stupid thing to do though – as you say it makes them indolent and disfunctional
    – those who make money through working long hours / hard. I don’t resent people lifting themselves up by the boot laces, and I don’t think you should either. People who work 37.5 hours a week and do little to improve their own skills so as to make more money shouldn’t be complaining about those who work longer, harder or invest more in their own skills. It’s a choice, and most people could do the same – they choose not to. I’ve nothing against that choice – personally I choose to work fewer hours than I potentially could, and accept the reduced career progression that causes. I still work more hours than many – and get annoyed when those who work less hard than me want to redistribute my income
    – those who have some talent that is disproportionately rewarded. The same way that Roger Federer makes much more money than someone who is “only” the 20th ranked tennis player in the world, there are also some people in the business sphere who are worth disproportionately more than the 3rd or 4th ranked person. That’s the way the world works, and it will become increasingly true as global markets allow everyone to buy from the best in the world instead of the second best. The best will end up disproportionately profitable
    – those who make money by lying, cheating or stealing. These people should rightly be hounded and pilloried. They’re a small proportion – the same as those who abuse the benefit system are a small proportion, but should also be hounded and pilloried.

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  33. JiveKitty (778 comments) says:

    @realist: The maximum number of grants over the phone is two in a six month period. Following on from that, the person has to go into the office for a grant application. Part of the problem is that while the person is required to go into the office on that third grant, they are often not booked another appointment for budgeting advice (to my knowledge). However, food grants also have a limit in a given period (a year, or is it 6 months? I forget). Of course, there will, unfortunately, be many people who have a fine tuned awareness of how the limit works and plan their food grant applications accordingly. They should be declined under the food grant policy where they plan it but probably are not in many cases. The reason I state they should be declined under the policy is that food grants are a form of assistance for immediate and essential needs arising from circumstances that could not reasonably be planned for/dealt with by a person on a fixed income.

    The comment: “She is clearly having trouble managing her finances. We want to help her with that, rather than continuing to service the symptoms of the problem with hardship grants.” is good. It’s a pity they gave her a grant given her apparent attitude. I doubt that changed so I don’t know why they did, particularly with how much she’s getting per week. Many families of equivalent size get by on less because they are willing to make sacrifices and handle their finances prudently.

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  34. Maggie (672 comments) says:

    There is nothing like the topic of beneficiaries to bring out the worst in some people. Perhaps some of you should read your posts again 24 hours after you have written them and ask what they say about you.

    Firstly two cases are hardly representative, The huge majority of beneficiaries are decent people who play by the rules.

    Some wealthy people cheat on their taxes, but right wingers tend to admire them rather than villify them.

    For five years me and my wife ran a budget service in a working class suburb. Most of our clients were on a benefit. Many of them were superb budgeters, they have to be to make ends meet. Some struggled but were trying hard. The only clients I saw who wasted money on booze, Lotto, drugs were working people, often on high incomes.

    Benefits in NZ are set at a level which if you are careful and watch every cent, are just enough to survive on, But when something goes wrong, your third hand fridge breaks down, the washing machine packs up or the car needs repairing there is no money for that. So you go cap in hand to WINZ who examine your finances with a fine tooth comb, there is little privacy or dignity when you are on a benefit.

    Benefit levels have never been restored to the equivalent they were before Richardson hacked away at them. That is to Labours eternal shame.

    Farrar, I don’t know what peverse satisfaction it gives you to let loose some of the nastiest people in NZ on the topic of social welfare. This says a lot about your character that isn’t very pretty.

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  35. Pete George (23,567 comments) says:

    The huge majority of beneficiaries are decent people who play by the rules.

    Yes, that’s probably right. But does that mean a sizable minority who abuse the benefit system should not be called on their abuse? They are ripping the good beneficiaries off as much as anything, it puts more pressure on limiting what they get.

    Another problem with insufficient limits on and exposure of benefit abuse – if it’s rampant and easy for a few that tends to encourage more to try and get the same. Have you heard the “justification” – “but everyone else is doing it”?
    (I’m aware that also applies to tax avoidance)

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  36. Maggie (672 comments) says:

    Of course people who rip off the system should be caught and punished. I just don’t understand why some people pick out beneficiaries for exclusive vitriol, just because they are vulnerable, I guess. Bullies always go for the easy target.

    Interestingly the most veracious benefit fraudster was an Aussie who went about the country setting up WINZ accounts in diferent names. He ripped off millions, on benefit day he would spent the entire day travelling around Auckland drawing money out of ATMs.

    But he couldn’t spend any of it. He was a beneficiary so could not buy an expensive house, yacht or car without drawing attention to himself.

    He hid all the loot in the attic of his house. When it was finally found there was so much that by shrewd investments WINZ acrually made a profit out of his crimes.

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  37. JiveKitty (778 comments) says:

    @Maggie: WINZ don’t have the ability to examine the finances of most with a fine tooth comb. A bank statement showing the most recent transactions, a quote and a form of ID are enough for advances and grants for certain things. Less than that for grants that are deemed to be for immediate and essential needs. Case managers aren’t budget advisors and most won’t have the training. And the budgeting advice that a person should be booked for when they’ve needed too much assistance in a shortish period is not likely to be booked all that often.

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  38. magic bullet (776 comments) says:

    A friend of mine, who receives the dpb, recently told me that she sat down with her budget advisor, and found that her basic living costs exceeded her benefit by $15. Key’s increase in the number of budget advisers is not an efficiency gain measure, but an intentional affront to the moral integrity of sol-parents. It’s a tactic that targets “latent prejudices” in the audience. It’s like the bitchy sister who keeps feeding you very subtle hints, sparking the possibility in your mind that your partner is cheating on you – she knows that it has happened to you before. As you start to become more paranoid about your partner’s fidelity, so the public becomes paranoid about the honesty of beneficiaries. All of a sudden your partner has a private investigator on them, and so do the sol-parents. Jeez – talk about snake spoke to eve in the garden. National’s Crosby-Textor style of politics is ugly, and i would go so far as to say evil. They hide their intentions behind promises to care, then they slash the share of the economic pie that the poor receive, and set about divisive hate/paranoia based politics, to stop the vast majority of people with common interests from coming together and demanding that their efforts are rewarded with a proportionate share of the natural resources, we were all born with equal entitlement to. The capital-owning class claiming privilege to exploit these resources for personal profit IS A RIGHT GRANTED TO THEM BY THE PUBLIC MAJORITY. It is a therefore a privilege, and should be seen as one. But the rich have gained an attitude of entitlement. An arrogance that what little crumbs are fed to workers for their efforts is theirs to decide. Unions are no longer accepted as valid by larger companies. They bargain only with token good faith – turning up to meetings with unions with no intention of budging an inch.

    So national continues with its cynical wedge politics, whilst actively applying downward pressure to the wages of its target audience, through regressive labour laws. Key is a “smiling snake” – and his supporters are enthusiastic agents of divisive deception. It saddens me to know that people can live like this. Particularly people with such huge responsibility and who enjoy so much well-intentioned, if deluded support.

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  39. noodle (151 comments) says:

    There were genuinely poor people around in the olden days when I was growing up in NZ, but they had far more personal dignity and were afforded more dignity than the average , obese, ignorant, greedy rabble who infest WINZ offices today, demanding hand-outs for luxuries once undreamed of if unearned.
    Private charities existed to assist these poor but they did require some effort on the part of the needy in return for help.
    This system was rough in parts but it did work. Charity was a 2 way street. When that disappeared, with Govt. interference, all turned to shit .We are donkey-deep now and I see no hope for the future.
    No-one has the balls anymore to tell hopeless slobs that $800 bucks a week, gratis, is enough to live on.

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  40. Maggie (672 comments) says:

    JiveKitty (850) Says:

    April 10th, 2011 at 9:45 am
    @Maggie: WINZ don’t have the ability to examine the finances of most with a fine tooth comb. A bank statement showing the most recent transactions, a quote and a form of ID are enough for advances and grants for certain things. Less than that for grants that are deemed to be for immediate and essential needs. Case managers aren’t budget advisors and most won’t have the training. And the budgeting advice that a person should be booked for when they’ve needed too much assistance in a shortish period is not likely to be booked all that often.

    You right, they don’t have budgeting training. But when a budget adviser is involved, the first thing a WINZ case manager asks is to take a copy of the budget the adviser and client have drawn up.

    Budgets aren’t that hard to understand, generally they are pretty simple documents ending with a deficit or a surplus. Our training is not just about how to add the numbers up, but more how to obtain them. The adviser has to establish a relationship of trust where a client is prepared to be honest and tell everything he spends money on. That takes time, with a case manager doesn’t have.

    Making budgeting advice compulsory is pointless.

    WINZ frequently refer people to a budget service. Sometimes they tell beneficiaries they won’t get any further assistance unless they go. So the beneficiary trudges along and sits in my office and makes it clear he doesn’t want to be there, sighs, looks at the ceiling and answers in monosyllables. A budget is dawn up which probably bears no relationship to the true picture, you make a second appointment and he never turns up. He’s done what he was asked to do by WINZ and came to see me. It was a waste of my time and his and nothing was achieved.

    You could make budgeting mandatory for anyone who goes into bankruptcy, this doesn’t just apply to beneficiaries. But if you don’t want to learn about budgeting, you won’t.

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